The day of departure has finally arrived! After much gnashing of teeth over what to pack, baggage weights, and what (if anything) we could leave behind, we have arrived in Canada and are beginning to explore this beautiful country before the start of the Hearties Family Reunion on Friday.
It has been great to finally all be together. For the past 9-10 months we’ve been having daily conversations through Twitter direct messaging, so while we know each other well in a virtual sense, it’s been good to get to know each other better face-to-face.
Kylie had been doing what she called ‘secret squirrel’ activities in the lead up to our departure and came to Brisbane bearing gifts – commemorative JAKK t-shirts, jackets, and all sorts of goodies. Suffice to say, you won’t miss us at the event. With all the goodies, we’ll definitely need to do some creative packing tonight as space in our luggage is now at a premium.
You kinda forget how far away Australia is until you leave our shores to travel somewhere else. Our journey to Canada has taken a little over 13 hours. We left Brisbane at 11am on Monday and arrived at Vancouver at around 7.15am local time on Monday. Our flight has taken us over the Pacific, just off the coast of Hawaii, then straight on to Vancouver.
So what does one do to pass the time on a long-haul flight? Learn to crochet! KP is a wizz at the crochet needle and has made some baby blankets to donate to Vancouver mothers and their children fleeing domestic violence. She has been putting the finishing touches on her work on the flight and has been passing her expertise on to Kylie. A bit tricky in the low light conditions on board the cabin, but Kyles has proven to have a deft touch. We’ll put in our orders now for hand-made Christmas presents!
Once in Vancouver, we hit the ground running (jetlag and all). KP has distant cousins who were keen to meet her. They also realised we are a package deal and brought two cars to the airport to ferry all of us (and our luggage) to a local spot in West End for breakfast and dropped us off at our hotel. Awesome generosity, given they didn’t know us from the proverbial bar of soap! Hopefully we were able to pull off some smiles and some almost intelligent conversation after our long flight and intermittent sleep.
After an early check-in and breakfast, we rented some bicycles and did a lap of the beautiful Stanley Park, just a few blocks from our hotel. This 400+ hectare park is the green lungs of Vancouver, and the path around its seawall is over 8kms in length (and thankfully largely flat). It’s not unkind to say that we are not regular riders … which means sore butts for day two.
We were fortunate to get here in time to see the beautiful autumn colours. Instagram has been alive over the past few weeks with stunning yellows, reds and browns as the leaves turn and fall from the trees ahead of a cool winter. Our photos below give you a sense of the beauty of what we witnessed today.
Another thing we noticed was the quality of the air – it’s so clean, particularly given we are in a large city. And we even saw a couple of squirrels and otters lazily swimming towards boats docked in the bay, and many Canadian geese sunning themselves. That drew a few squeals from us. When you don’t have these animals in your country, it’s a novelty when you do spot them (a bit like foreigners spotting kangaroos in our country).
We finished up the day with dinner at a pub just down the road from our hotel and kicked back to watch the sunset from English Bay Beach. Just stunning, and a great way to cap off 30 hours of being awake.
All in all, a fantastic first day, albeit a little tiring. Tomorrow we’ll continue to explore the city, including Queen Elizabeth Park, the Bloedel Floral Conservatory, and Gastown (one of the oldest parts of the city). Looking forward to touching base with other #HFR4 attendees via social media ahead of Friday’s main event. Please leave a comment below – we’d love to hear from you!